Noting the Syrian Government’s reported rejection of his proposals on arrangements for a United Nations probe of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed the authorities to extend their fullest cooperation and allow the investigation to proceed.
Only yesterday, he announced that all technical and logistical preparations are now in place for the advance UN team, currently in Cyprus, to deploy to Syria in less than 24 hours. On March 20 the Syrian Government, embroiled in deadly conflict with its opponents for the past two years, itself requested a “specialized, impartial and independent mission” to investigate the allegations.
“I regret that the Government of Syria has not yet agreed to the modalities I have proposed for the Mission to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons at locations within Syria,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Rome, where he earlier met Pope Francis and Italian leaders.
Noting the reported rejection, he said he had not received any official communication on the matter from the Syrian Government. “I would like to recall that I received allegations of the use of chemical weapons on the Syrian territory from the Government of Syria on March 20 and from the Governments of the United Kingdom and France on March 21,” he added.
“My mandate obliges me to examine any request from a Member State to conduct such an investigation.” The probe is to focus on an alleged incident at Khan al-Asal in Aleppo in March and allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Homs last December.
“I appeal to the Government of Syria to extend its fullest cooperation, and to allow the investigation to proceed. The Mission is ready; they are ready to deploy. They are waiting in Cyprus. I sincerely hope that the Government of Syria will accept the modalities that I have proposed for the Mission.”
Since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, more than 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and more than three million displaced. In addition, some 1.3 million people have taken refuge in neighbouring countries.